Qualifications and care management: Can the care manager be a medical assistant?

The short answer is generally no, but it depends.

A first issue with a medical assistant (MA) is workflow. MAs who have responsibility for rooming patients and do not have “open ended” time to work with patients as their needs permit are not a good role fit, regardless of personal skill. A second issue is medical knowledge.

Generally, care managers must be able to make independent decisions and, within scope, operate as a provider. A care manager who provides incorrect information due to lack of medical or other needed knowledge, or has to ask the doctor or others in the office for assurance or answers is not a good fit for the care manager role. That being said, many MAs provide excellent support for some care management activities, such as identifying patients in the registry who need follow-up care, calling to set up physician or care manager visits, or keeping medication lists and other health care encounters up to date.

Some MAs with exceptional interpersonal skills can act as a sort of health coach or motivator for patients to attend community programs or to set and track goals around preventive health issues. They are also one of the first to identify a patient needing care management because patients may let the MA know more about themselves than the provider.

By Complete Care Management, Inc.